Beijing, Dec 6 (EFE).- China paid tribute to late leader Jiang Zemin at a memorial service held in Beijing on Tuesday.
Speaking at the event, President Xi Jinping described the former president as a prestigious leader and a great Marxist, diplomat and a Communist warrior, who led China during a period of “unprecedented challenges.”
The ceremony, held in the Great Hall of the People, located in Tiananmen Square, was attended by Jiang’s widow, Wang Yeping, but neither Zhu Rongji – Jiang’s right-hand man during part of his tenure – nor his successor, Hu Jintao, were seen during the broadcast of the event.
Hu, who was publicly expelled during the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October, had attended Jiang’s cremation on Monday.
The attendees observed three minutes of silence at the start of the event after which sirens were sounded in Beijing and other Chinese cities for another three minutes.
Xi highlighted Jiang’s persistence in “opening up and economic reform” and praised his role in overseeing the handover of Macau and Hong Kong to China.
He touched upon the period of “unprecedented challenges” that China faced in the late 1980s and early 1990s, alluding to the 1989 Tiananmen massacre after which Jiang came to power.
The current leader also said Jiang had a “vision” to “achieve a prosperous country” and led China to join the World Trade Organization.
Xi, who was wearing a black armband, thanked the former president for “clarifying the relationship between socialism, maintaining stability and economic development.”
The Chinese president ended his speech by wishing “eternal glory to Comrade Jiang Zemin.”
After his speech, those present bowed three times and listened to The Internationale.
Xi delivered his speech next to a large portrait of Jiang, whose remains were draped with a flag of the Communist Party of China.
Black banners hung at the venue read “Comrade Jiang Zemin, who is sincerely loved by the whole party, the army and the people of all nationalities, will live forever!” and “Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, we will inherit the will of Comrade Jiang Zemin and push forward the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era!”
The attendees were dressed in black and wore masks.
Jiang was cremated on Monday at the Babaoshan cemetery in the west of Beijing, where many top leaders are interred.
The former president died on Wednesday in Shanghai of leukemia and multiple organ failure at the age of 96.
Jiang, who was president between 1993 and 2003, made his last public appearance on Oct. 1, 2019, to mark China’s National Day and the 17th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of China.
Jiang’s tenure was marked by the continuity of the so-called “open door” economic policies of his predecessor and mentor, Deng Xiaoping, which saw China open up to foreign investment.
Some of Jiang’s milestones include China’s access to the World Trade Organization in 2001 and securing the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. He was also well known for clamping down on the Falun Gong spiritual movement. EFE